Last week I mentioned that I would let you know what papers are needed and for how long when it comes to your tax returns.
For items concerning your income you will need these basic records: Form W-2,Form 1099,Bank Statements, Brokerage Statements, Form K-1.
For items concerning expenses : sales slips, invoices,receipts, canceled checks or other proof of payment,written communications from qualified charities.
For items concerning your home: Closing statements, purchase and sales invoices,proof of payment,insurance records, receipts for improvement costs
For investments:brokerage statements, mutual fund statements, Form 1099, Form 2439
Now how long do you have to keep these records: Guidelines to follow
If you owe additional tax then the period is 3 years
If you do not report income that you should and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return the period is 6 years.
If you file a fraudulent return , it is indefinite
If you do not file a return, it is indefinite
If you file for a credit or refund after you have filed your return, it is 3 years or 2 years after you paid taxes, whichever is later
If you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities, it is 7 years
For more information on record keeping, the IRS has put together a handy publication on record keeping for Individuals. For any other questions consult your tax professional.
Now that you have done all of that, isn’t time to get rid of some of those papers? You have kept them organized by year, I am sure. So following the guidelines above shred the papers and receipts you no longer need. The Tampa Bay Professional Organizers are having a Shred A Thon on April 10,2010 at the corner of Fletcher and Dale Mabry in Carrollwood. Pro-Shred will be on hand to professionally shred all the documents and papers you no longer need. You will also be issued a certificate of shredding for your peace of mind. The event is a fund raiser for the Children’s Cancer Center with a suggested donation of $2.00 per box of papers shredded. Pro-Shred and the TampaBay Professional Organizers are donating 100% of the donations to the Children’s Cancer Center. Come on out. You’ll be able to enjoy more of our beautiful weather and not spend time in front of your personal shredding machine.
The weather here in Florida is finally starting to act like spring instead of old man winter’s stepchild. We have had the coldest winter weather this year as long as they have been keeping records. Now the sun is out, the sky is clear and one can feel the renewed energy in all living things around them.
Now is a really good time to go through that closet of yours as you prepare to put the heavier weight clothing away(that is unless you are headed North or to go sking in the next few weeks, I just heard yesterday that they are still getting snow out in Colorado. Now back to the point. First weed out the winter clothes that you did not wear this season. See if they fit. If the clothes don’t fit put them in a bin,tote or basket to prepare to give to a local thrift store. It is always easy to say if I just lose those 10 lbs. or more(?) then I can wear them again. Let’s face reality, you most likely will not wear those garmetns again no matter how much you loved them when you purchased them. If you moved to Florida from the colder climate and still have a winter coat that fits, you might want to keep that in the chance that you go visiting there again. If the coat doesn’t fit and you can not see visiting the cold weather cities in the near future-get rid of it. At this point I am going to be proud of you because I know that it is important to have all those pretty spring and summer clothes hanging in your closet. Bring those out of hiding. Make sure they fit, are clean , and don’t need any repairs such as a button replacement. You know just as well as I do that when you go to wear that piece of clothing that if the button is still missing, it will only add to a headache and put you in a foul mood.
You don’t have to do all this by yourself. If you have a husband , significant other or a girlfriend, borrow them for an hour or so to help you through the process. Then being the wonderful person that you are, you will offer to assist them in the same process. When this is all done, put the clothes in one of those black lawn or large trash bags and either take them to the thrift store of your favorite charity or arrange for pickup. Here is also another idea. Let’s say that you and your friends are doing the closet dance at the same time, have a clothes swap. The beautiful sweater that you always admired may not want to be in the owner’s closet anymore. It is a great way to pick uip some gently worn items and accessories while keeping within budget. When I just mentioned accessoriies, I mean the same for accessories as I do for clothes. If you don’t wear them, move them on it. The Universe abhors a vaccum so they will be replaced in some manner. If your clothing is such that you never wore it, or hardly wore it and it is still in style, you might consider taking those items to your local consignment store. Granted you will not come away with the amount of money that you originally paid, but most likely you will get some money. Then go shopping for something new and exhiliarating. This step will also help the bottom line.
Now that you have your closets cleaned out and straightened, you will feel so much better-lighter in fact since you won’t have those clothing items weighting you down. You also don’t have to stop at the closets. Go through your cupboards and throw out expired spices and food items. How many plastic containers do you realistically need to have? Are you and your family the ones who will eat left overs or is it the guilt of throwing something out that makes you put that stuff in the fridge until the smell is so bad or it starts turning green, that you then toss it. Be honest with yourself. Actions speak louder than words.
If you dont want to odo closets, ok. Maybe you are so totally together that you have the perfect closet. Bless you. You also might just be able to shop in the closet. Wouldn’t that be fun? Oh, did I mention that in 5 weeks the taxes are due? How about those papers and supprting documents? Are they in piles on the desk that is buried under them all? Are they in a laundry basket for safe keeping? Just like the closet go through them , make your files for the receipts that you will need if or should you be audited. The shoe box can be a wonderful thing but the IRS auditor does not find this filing method amuzing.
Now that you are feeling glum about the upcoming tax return deadline-maybe you have a refund coming this year. Go through your stuff and see if you can itemize your deductions, or have had a major change in your life this year, relationship status, move, job, lack of job, medical. Take the time to talk with a professional to get the best advice possible. Another sidebar, did you know that if you file electronically that you most likely will receive your refund sooner? Another thing, if you think that filing for an extension will be the easy way out so you don’t have to be in any sort of sprint to get the taxes completed, you will need to pay the amount of tax owed if you are most likely to owe the IRS .
If you live in the Tampa Bay area, the Tampa Bay Professional Organizers are having a Shred a Thon Saturday April 10. I will get back to you with all the details in the next couple of days. I will also supply you with the list of papers and receipts that need to be kept and for how long. After the time period has elapsed , they can be thrown away or shredded. We have all heard the horror stories of stolen identity so just throwing in the trash can is probably not your best option. We will have a professional shredding truck on site who will provide you with a certificate of shredding for your records.
Enjoy the beginnings of spring, the official solstice is March 20. Daylight Savings Time starts this coming weekend. So don’t forget to SPRING FORWARD . Set your clocks an hour ahead before you go to bed Saturday night. It will eliminate the confusion in the morning. Just think there will be an extra hour that you can walk, jog, or sit outside and enjoy your favorite beverage at the sidewalk cafe. In case you did not do this on New Year’s Day , you might just replace the batteries in your smoke alarm and how about changing those air filters? With alll the pollen and dust in the air, the filters are taking a beating. If you have allergies, iti s the worst.
Until next time, enjoy life and savor the moments of silence, the singing birds the beautiful spring flowers that are starting to sprout their little heads. This is all a part of the fabric and texture of life.
If you are overworked, stressed out ready to run a way but have no place to go, think of hiring an assistant for a day or even a few hours to help take the load off. Life is meant to be enjoyed not dreaded. What the catepillar sees as the end of life , the Master sees the butterfly as a beginning.